Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

A brand new (May)day…a big change for Amazon’s “greatest feature”

October 2, 2015

A brand new (May)day…a big change for Amazon’s “greatest feature”

I have repeatedly lauded Amazon’s Mayday feature, introduced with the 2013 Kindle Fire tablets. For example, I said:

“There has never been an easier way to get Customer Service…”

I know something about that.

I was a manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and of course, there is a lot of Customer Service involved in the success or failure of a physical store.

More relevant here is that, in my job, I take phone calls from users on a help line (I do that maybe one day a week). I can remote into their computers so I can see what they are doing, and I can (with their permission) take over the computer so I can do things for them.

I do it with PC Anywhere, although we are testing another choice.

It can also be done to some extent with Webex, and I have done that.

I’m primarily a trainer, and sure, most of the time I want to train somebody how to do something themselves. However, in some cases it’s just a configuration thing which has to be changed only once, so it doesn’t make sense to teach the caller how to do it when they are in the middle of a mission critical operation. It’s better to just fix it in a case like that.

Sometimes, also, I don’t know what the answer is right away. I may need to do some trial and error to find the solution. Directing someone to perform the steps which fail is counterproductive for them learning how to do something. It’s better that I figure it out, and then either fix it or explain it to them.

Amazon made an amazing step forward with almost instant onscreen help at the touch of a button…and they promoted it heavily. There were many commercials, and Amazon CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jeff Bezos called it the “…greatest feature we’ve ever made…” in this

The Verge post by Joshua Topolsky

Check out the original Mayday

press release

I have said that it is the reason to buy a Fire tablet rather than another company’s tablet…even if the other tablet might have better specs. That’s especially true for people who aren’t techies. You could give a Fire tablet to someone who doesn’t know how to send an e-mail. That person could just tap a button (it’s not hard to do), and a helpful rep could appear on the screen…and even start the e-mail.

I’ve used it several times: even being very techie, I’ve found it useful. I joked about it here:

“Mayday? I’m bored…”

Well…

Karen, one of my regular readers and commenters, recently got one of the newest generation of Fire tablets, which I wrote about here:

Amazon hardware announcements! $50 tablet, 10″ tablet, Fire TV 2

I’ve ordered one, but it’s not here yet.

Karen is an experienced Fire tablet user, and looked for Mayday…and couldn’t find it.

Usually, you just swipe down from the top, and there it is.

Karen went to an earlier gen Fire tablet, and asked the Mayday function on that tablet where it was on the new one. 🙂

Karen reported being told basically that it wasn’t on the new tablet.

Yet, the tablet’s Amazon product page

Fire HD 8, 8″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile:benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

says it does have Mayday**.

So, I asked Amazon.

I was told that it’s different on the new tablets. You don’t evoke Mayday directly from the tablet (so in that sense, the Mayday rep on the older tablet was right).

I was told that when customers call Kindle Support, then they can have screen sharing assistance.

That sounds like something I wrote about earlier this year:

Amazon experimenting with “co-pilot” help function

I thought co-pilot was going to be an option for people on a computer…an enhancement to doing a typical Kindle Support call (which are already great, in my opinion).

That is a very, very different  experience from what we have had on Mayday.

If I’m understanding this correctly (and I’ve asked for clarification), these are the two scenarios:

Previous generation Mayday: puzzled customer swipes down from the top on the tablet, taps the Mayday button, gives permission with a tap, and a live person appears in a video window on the tablet to help.

New generation:  puzzled customer looks for help on the tablet. Puzzled customer finds a link to help on the tablet. Puzzled customer then gets SmartPhone (or landline phone) and calls Kindle Service. Now, communicating on the phone, representative somehow gets permission to screenshare. I’m guessing that whole process is not going to make the fifteen second response time goal set originally for Mayday. 😉

I’ve asked Amazon these questions:

Can the representative control the device, or is the customer just sharing the screen?

How does the customer give permission for the sharing? I know Amazon had been testing a “co-pilot” type option before.

Does the representative have any “presence” on the device? Is there a video window? Is there audio on the device of the representative? Or is the human to human communication all done over the phone?

Will Mayday as we know it, with the video window, still be available on the older models which have it for now?

I’ll let you know what I hear back, and I do expect to hear back. I think, and surveys tend to bear it out, that Amazon has terrific Customer Service.

If it does turn out that initiating Mayday from the tablets is gone in the new gen, that feels like a big step backwards for customers. It might have been essentially unavoidable: Mayday always seemed like it had to be quite expensive. Yes, access to the device could save some real time (it does in my job), but having live people available 24/7 to  do that isn’t cheap.

Some Customer Service reps on Mayday did seem a bit uncomfortable being on screen, and there were some technical issues (especially with hearing the person).

Regardless, it was amazing…but perhaps too good to last?

I’ll keep you informed.

Thanks, Karen!

UPDATE: I did hear back from Amazon…they are really good at that. 🙂 I was given permission to share this response:

” A Mayday Screen Sharing session does not include any video chat. We can see only your screen, unless the camera is activated for troubleshooting purposes. 

– The associate can remotely access the Fire or Fire HD to provide tech support. 

– Associates will always ask for permission before they view areas of devices that contain personal information (email, photos, or personal videos). Agents only see what’s displayed on the screen.

– The Mayday button where a Customer Service associate appears on your screen is only available on Kindle Fire HDX (3rd Generation), Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (3rd Generation), Fire Phone, and Fire HDX 8.9 (4th Generation) devices.”

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

** What it says specifically is that is has “…On-device Mayday Screen Sharing”. I may be significant that “Screen Sharing” is capitalized…making it a named variant to what we’ve known before as simply “Mayday”

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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Amazon experimenting with “co-pilot” help function

January 17, 2015

Amazon experimenting with “co-pilot” help function

Amazon has highly-rated Customer Service.

It has typically lead the annual Foresee survey, although intriguingly, and perhaps significantly, it dropped quite a bit for 2014 according to this

Foresee press release

In this brief excerpt, they say:

“The 2014 AXI reveals that Amazon, the undisputed king of online customer satisfaction since the first report in 2005, slipped to a score of 83, tying with QVC for the highest score among the top 100 e-commerce sites measured.”

While they suggest it had to do in part with a perception of Amazon’s price competitiveness (and that’s certainly possible), I suspect that the Hachazon War (their dispute with publisher Hachette) had something to do with it. I genuinely think that hurt customer perception, and there may not have been a good place to mark that on the survey. The rise in the annual Prime subscription price from $79 to $99 may also have affected that this year.

Still, Mayday (available on some Fire tablets) and the Fire Phone is (in my opinion) one of the greatest Customer Service innovations in the past ten years. It’s almost instant onscreen technical help. They can tell you what to do, or takeover your device (with your permission) and do it for you.

Now, it appears that Amazon is experimenting with a similar “remote support” option on the website.

I first became aware of it with a comment from one of the other Kindle Forum Pros.

Unlike some things Amazon “A/B tests” (different people see different things, so you can figure out what works best), I can see this one, and I’m guessing you can, too.

Called “Co-Pilot” (or “Copilot”…they are inconsistent), it seems to me that it is intended to be used in a manner similar to the way I can use PC Anywhere at work to help people.

It would be used when you were on the phone with Customer Service.

The Customer Service rep would give you a code, which you enter into a box in your browser.

You can see the co-pilot option by going to Help on an Amazon website when viewing Amazon.com and then going to “Need More Help?” You can then see it (I would guess…probably only compatible with some browsers at this point) in the options (in the screenshot below, it’s the bottom right choice):

Copilot Menu

Once you click or tap that, you then get a place you can enter a code, which would be given to you by the representative.

They say the code is only good for five minutes, and that the rep can only see “…active Amazon.com web pages and cannot see other web pages or information on your computer.”

The way I would picture this working is that you contact Amazon Customer Service. You are having trouble getting something to work on the site…perhaps something at

Manage Your Kindle

site.

The rep would ask you if you would like them to “co-pilot” it with you…see what is happening on your computer.

When I am at work, I can actually take over somebody’s computer (with their permission…they have to acknowledge a pop-up), but my guess here is that they’ll only see it, not actually control it.

If you say yes, they give you a code, which you enter. At that point, something would happen, and the rep could see what is happening on your screen, so they can help you. “See the third choice from the top that says, ‘Manage Your Devices’?” It would be something like that.

I haven’t had a need to use it yet, and I don’t want to use their resources unnecessarily.

Have any of you used Amazon Co-pilot yet? If so, what was your experience?

This is another way, I think, that Amazon is trying to become the “Internet Interface”.

I see that as an essential part of their retail strategy (which is not their only strategy).

Amazon could (and I’m not saying they would) raises prices if people still preferred to shop through them.

One way to do that is through Customer Service. If they have this co-pilot thing, and others don’t, that’s going to have a big appeal for the less techie.

That’s where Amazon has really made market inroads.

That was the success of the Kindle in 2007: other EBRs (E-Book Readers) existed in the US market…more than ten of them. However, they were comparatively hard to use, not downloading the books wirelessly. Amazon essentially created the USA e-book mass market by making it appealing to non-techies.

It’s also important to note that it wasn’t cheap in the beginning…the first Kindle was almost $400. Some people get this mistaken idea that Amazon is all about discounting, and being the online Wal-Mart. That’s not the case, or at least, that’s only part of it. Amazon stresses Service, Selection, and Price.

The Amazon Echo (mine is supposed to arrive in May…or June…or July) 😉 is another big part of this strategy.

It’s an “always listening” example of ambient computing, and may become some people’s go to way to get to the internet when they are at home.

Even if they use it to access competitors’ sites, eventually, Amazon can monetize it by charging those other companies.

I’ve said it before, but I also think that’s part of the plan. Sell things to customers inexpensively (or mostly inexpensively), and make money on the actual process of it being sold. That doesn’t mean that Amazon has to do the selling…it could just do the interface, as it does now with third-party sellers.

Amazon Co-pilot is a fascinating unannounced move from Amazon, and I think it is part of their future…and our future relationship with them.

Update: I was given permission to post this from Amazon:

“Amazon Co-Pilot is in beta testing at the moment. It works when viewing Amazon.com from a PC or laptop browser, and works best with IE 8 (and higher), Firefox 14 (and higher), and Safari 6 (and higher).”

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #258: WSV for apps, access instead of ownership

June 13, 2014

Round up #258: WSV for apps, access instead of ownership

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Mayday heyday

I’ve said:

“Having a tablet without Mayday is like having a car without a windshield: it doesn’t matter how fast your car is, or how cool it looks, if you can’t see how to get where you’re going.”

Amazon has just put out this new

press release

with some very interesting (and positive) information about the live on-screen tech help for the

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They say that 75% of contacts about the KFHDX come through Mayday…and that the average response time is 9.75 seconds.

Imagine getting knowledgeable help in under ten seconds by walking into a chain brick-and-mortar bookstore! Not very likely…and I used to be a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager. Our store was small enough that we were likely to say “Hi” to you as you walked into the store, although not always (we might have been on the floor helping somebody else or merchandising). In a Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million, though? You’ll probably either need to wait in line at the front to ask a question, or work your way through the aisles to an advice desk…where you may still need to wait for somebody.

They tell several anecdotes in the press release, including somebody getting help with Angry Birds, and a rep singing Happy Birthday (I’ve wondered before if Amazon pays royalties when that happens…).

It is one of my major reasons to recommend the Kindle Fire HDX…and I think it is the future of Customer Service (although, I suspect that Artificial Intelligence responses will be part of this sort of instant help eventually).

I did just recently have a reader comment on getting someone through Mayday that they had difficulty in understanding. That’s the first time I’ve heard that, and I’ve used Mayday several times myself without an issue like that.

Whispersync for Voice added to apps

In another

press release

Amazon announced an update to their free reading apps for Android and for iDevices which brings Whispersync for Voice to them.

WSV allows you to switch between sight-reading a book and listening to an audiobook.

While I use text-to-speech often for the same purpose (listening in the car, sight-reading at home or on a break at work), I really don’t use WSV.

As regular readers know, I’m not a big fan of audiobooks…unless I’ve already read the book. I don’t like the actor/author interpreting the characters for me. I like TTS better because it is generic, which I know seems odd to some people.

Still, WSV seems to be a success for Amazon, and I’m sure many of you will be happy to hear this. Once again, Amazon gives us more at no additional cost.

To find which books you already own as e-books that having matching reduced cost audiobooks under the WSV program, you can go to

http://www.amazon.com/matchmaker (at AmazonSmile)

Music studios probably don’t want to hear this…

With yesterday’s implementation of

Prime Music (my post on it)

I can’t imagine buying music for myself again.

That’s how the world has changed for a lot of people.

I have something like 10,000 paperbooks on shelves in my home. I have…oh, more than a 100 DVDs.

I definitely was somebody who owned things for the sake of owning them.

Now (and isn’t this modern of me?) 😉 I’m generally good with paying for access instead.

I’ve been using Prime Music since yesterday. I’m listening to it right now…The Andrews Sisters are singing, and it’s a song I have bought in the past. It’s part of the Prime Playlist

50 Great Swing Era Songs (at AmazonSmile)

It’s sort of like listening to a radio station…with no ads. 🙂

I consider myself a pretty eclectic music listener, just as I think of myself as an eclectic reader (although I do have some preferences, I can read pretty much anything). With Prime Music, there are plenty of things I want to hear…and in many categories. I may listen to the Taiko (Japanese drumming) album I see later this day, but I also listen to contemporary music.

Do they have everything? No.

Do they have enough? Looks like it. 😉

I feel the same way about video. There is enough TV and enough movies for me to watch through Prime and Netflix (and legal free online sources) that I’m trying to see a path where I would buy a DVD for myself…and not finding one.

I suspect that Amazon could (and may this year) introduce a book subser (subscription service) where I feel largely the same way.

It’s been quite a mental shift for me to not need to watch a specific video or listen to a particular tune…and I think I’d get there with books.

That would really change the economics of things, if many people did that.

We might end up with ten percent of the number of new books being released each year by the tradpubs (traditional publishers)…and the cost going up a lot.

I’ve talked about $50 as a reasonable price for a new hardback novel in the future (as a possible scenario).

If subsers take off, I could see that going to $100.

Early access would become a true luxury.

Sure, there would be some specials on things like that, but you’d have the “golden gateway” crowd, which pays more to “get in” first, then the average person, who pays monthly or annually for a subser and gets books that are a year old or so…and disadvantaged people, who get them free from sources like the library, but perhaps even slower than that. Of course, the libraries could have them as quickly…if governments support them paying licenses that the publishers consider reasonable.

What do you think? Are we seeing and will we continue to see a shift towards people paying for access rather than ownership? How will that affect the production of content? Do you find that it’s happened for you? What has your experience been with Mayday (if any)? Are you a Whispersync for Voice user? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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